Archives for April 2014

The Bees Swarm! Again!

Today Gerald’s bees swarmed AGAIN!   A healthy queen may lay 2000 eggs per day, and it takes 16 days for the eggs to hatch.  The queen in his hive must be AWESOME, because this hive has swarmed not once but twice and he still has lots of bees!     Fortunately, he saw the swarm and CAUGHT them.    While he was catching the bees, I was taking pictures.    By the time I got there, he had already captured most of the bees but you can see quite a few on the tree below.     Gerald was pretty sure he had already moved the queen into the “nuc” box, but in doing so, he had sprayed the swarm with sugar water.   They think it has rained yummy sugar water and are hoping for another downpour.     Look closely to see the bees; they blend in with the bark.

Bees on Tree 1

Gerald used a plastic bin which was light and he could hold it up to the tree and brush the bees into it.     That is the “nuc” box beside him.  You also see the plastic spray bottle with sugar water in it.   Bees are crazy about sugar water!   Further down, you’ll see our golfcarts…the “bee mobiles!”

Capturing the Bees 1

Here we go…they seem happy to land in the plastic box!   Probably were giving up on the idea of a sugar water rainfall and starting to wonder where their queen was.

Scaping Bees into Container

Staying after it…he said this was just a small amount of bees compared to what he’d had on the tree earlier.   Most were already captured.

Scarping Bees into Container 2

So…in this picture, he’s transferring the bees from the plastic bin to the “nuc” box.   I’m sure they were happy…back with their queen!

Putting them into the Nuc

That nuc box is full.  It normally has five frames in it, but the bees were so crowded, we left one frame out.    In the picture below, they are dropping into the nuc.  Very docile.  (This hive of bees has been meaner than Sh*t so this was a surprise.)

Putting them into the Nuc 2

It’s time to put the lid on the nuc.    Easy does it.

Recapping the Nuc

Just about done in this picture.

Recapping the Nuc 2

At this point, he’ll leave them in the nuc box while he sets another hive up.  We are very lucky to have captured these bees, and now there will be two hives over at Gerald’s house and two hives at my house.  We are back in the bee business!!

These bees are swarming because they are hatching out new queens.    I’m worried my hive will be next, even though it’s already split once  earlier this week.   We hate losing them after we’ve cared for them and tried to give them a perfect place to live.  In the wild, their chance of survival is very slim.

Just another beekeeping day in Mendota!



A Bee-autiful Experience

I thought this little outhouse was the perfect picture for this post, because we had bee problems this week and the word was Sh*t!

Outdoor toilet

Gerald (my brother-in-law) and I have three hives between us.  Last Sunday, two were very strong (one of his and one of mine) and one (mine) was weak–we suspected the queen was dead since we could not find her in two searches and the hive continued declining. By late Sunday afternoon, half of Gerald’s strong hive had swarmed, and while I was trying to get my protective clothing on to help him get them off the apple tree they were hanging on, they flew off.  Gone.  Just so fast. I could not believe it because we take such good care of them. They’d rather live in a tree where no one brings them sugar water? Stupid bees!

So…two things became really apparent after this. We had to do something about my weak hive, and we had to do something about my strong hive that might be planning to swarm and as well as the bees remaining in Gerald’s hive (still a lot of healthy bees). The strong hives were very crowded and this may have influenced the fact that his hive swarmed, so the first thing we did was add supers to the two healthy hives to give them more room.    A super is one of these white boxes.

Bee Hives

I then emailed John Rhoten at Poor Valley Bees to discuss getting a new queen for my weak hive. Thankfully, he had some queens arriving this week. I got the new queen yesterday. Here’s John….

John Rhoten

And here’s the queen…she’s the large bee in the tiny little box. My queen!!

Box of Bees

I also talked with John about moving some of the healthy bees over to the weak hive that we believed to be “queenless”. He said to move five frame over. We swapped out five empty frames from the weak hive with five frames full of bees, honey and brood (eggs). This is called “splitting the hive.”

Here’s Gerald doing all the work..I was just out of reach of the picture.

Gerald and the Bees

The picture below is the healthy hive…about to lose five frames full of bees. When you pull the frames out, they are covered with bees. We had to check and make sure we weren’t moving the queen bee. That would be bad.

Healthy Bees

In this picture, all the frames are swapped and we’re preparing to leave the tiny box with the queen bee and her helpers on top of the frames. Over a three-day period, the hive will accept her as their queen, and they’ll also eat her out of the candy part of the little box. On Tuesday, we’ll open the top of the hive and see if this happened. Hopefully all of this occurred, she’ll be free from the box, and her presence will restore order to the hive.

Installing the Queen

I’ve got sugar water with Honey Bee Healthy in it on the hives.

Hive No 1

I’m not sure if feeding the bees is necessary because Mendota is in bloom. Here’s some pictures…Swinging Bridge Road…just in front of the house.

Swinging Bridge

Back to the little outhouse just down the road…have you ever used one of these? Tell me!! I have! My grandmother used to have one.

Outdoor toilet


All the Poop On Luckie Dog

This was a scary week for Mike and me as Luckie had anesthesia when having her teeth cleaned.  She was not eating properly due to a sore mouth.  No one wants a sore mouth, so Dr. Steve, who had been putting this off thinking that Luckie’s teeth might outlive her, scheduled the cleaning. Luckie is the last of three dogs we got over 15 years ago.

Hey You

I understood the risks…they’ve been explained to me many times but nothing has ever went wrong. All the things that “might” happen have never happened. Until this week.

Following the procedure, Luckie came home very confused. Her leg and her shoulder quivered badly. She would not eat. Her tail dragged the ground. Her eyes were dull. She was anxious…both barking and whining.

Luckie Dog

I texted Dr. Steve, and he asked a few questions, but indicated none of this was unusual in old dogs during the first 48 hours after anesthesia. Another day passed with marginal improvement. On Thursday, she finally started to show signs of being herself (eating catfood). She later told me that I’d feel the same way if I went to the dentist and realized after the procedure that while my teeth got cleaned, my butt also got shaved.


Luckie 6

So…she felt well on Thursday, and I decided that we needed to go somewhere so she and I went to the Bank of America in Bristol to cash two checks. I drove into the drive thru window, and as soon as I pressed the “SEND” on the vacuum tube, Luckie pooped in the back seat. At this juncture, it seemed like the teller went from normal speed to slow motion. It took forever, and at the end of the transaction, she graciously spoke and said “does your doggy want a treat?” I weakly replied sure…all the while thinking…“my doggy already has a treat and she just left it in the back seat, and it’s stinkin’s so bad I’m about to puke.” I didn’t say any of that. We finished the transaction; I pulled to a grassy area which turned out to be directly in the line of the view of the teller. I got Luckie out and then with a paper towel, I picked the poop up from the truck’s rear seat and walked over to a spot with Luckie, bent over and laid the poop down. All of this was carefully correographed for the teller’s benefit so she would think I was a responsible dog owner cleaning her pet’s waste up. What I was really doing was leaving Luckie’s poop behind in the grass.   Oh the tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive. Finally after my performance, Luckie and I went back to the truck where she refused to get in the back even though there was not one trace of the offending poop. We drove home with her looking straight ahead not acknowledging her part in the poop.



When we did get home, I recalled that Luckie needed her post-surgery medication called Rimadyl. I went to the cabinet, got the Rimadyl and got myself a vitamin at the same time. I went to the sink, tossed the vitamin into my mouth and drank some water. I then reached to give Luckie her Rimydyl –but there was only the vitamin in my hand.

It’s Friday, and in spite of taking Luckie’s medication, I had no side effects, and she is doing great, too.

In other news, I dropped a clothing size this week.  That is a milestone!!   Yay me!!


Brittany’s Baby Quilt

Do you remember our quilt retreat that we had a few months ago? I blogged about it here and here.

At the end of the retreat, I was disappointed in my quilt. Everyone’s quilt looked better than mine. My “points” didn’t line up correctly and I had three puckered places. The picture below is how it looked before I sewed it together. I never showed you the quilt once it was pieced because I was embarassed.

Quilt Eva

I was ashamed. I look like the Unibomber in the picture below. That’s me. The Uniquilter — I can destroy the best laid quilt plans!

Uniquilter I

After the class, I put the fabric away. I actually wadded it up and put it in the corner of my closet. I’d had such big plans for that quilt. Two weeks ago, I got it out at my sister’s urging. I saw a quilt she was making and it was so pretty. She looked at mine and said it was’t that bad. We took it to Ruby Smith. Ruby was one of my mother and father’s best friends. She’s 96. I asked her what she thought of my work. She said “I’ve seen worse.” I asked her if she’d finish the quilt for me. She was happy to, and here it is all completed. I really like it. Why did it seem so bad when I first did it? I’m going to try another one.

Delcan's Quilt

This is the “Little Man” who has my first quilt. Doesn’t he look sweet lying on the little quilt with his pacifier and bowtie? He’d just pooped.

Delcan 1B

Life is good…even better with a little baby poop once in a while!


Abingdon Quilt Block Party

If you love quilts (who doesn’t?) and you want to see some beautiful quilts, please go to Abingdon’s Quilt Block Party. There are about 20 businesses participating by displaying quilts. I went to Light’s Mill.   Love that place.

Light's Mill

I have two quilts in the party, but I wasn’t sure where they ended up. As it turns out, they were at Light’s Mill where about 100 quilts are displayed. It’s a great place to display the quilts. There are lots of pictures with this post. That’s my Harvest Spice quilt below taking up a lot of room. It was a nice surprise to find it so easily.

Quilt 1

And turning in the other direction…

Quilt 2

Other direction…

Quilt 3


Quilt 4


Quilt I 5


Quilt I 6

More…also upstairs was a little alcove of what I call “message” quilts or “love” quilts.  They were quilted for a cause.

Message Quilts

Please, Lord, bless the precious hands that quilted this one.

Breast Cancer Quilt


Quilt I 7


Quilt I 8

More..this one is eye catching.  It looks complimentary to Harvest Space.

Quilt I 9

More…recognize the quilt with the blues pictured below?  It is the 2013 Mendota Cemetery Quilt.

Quilt I 10

More…here it is again.  Thank you to the Carrier family…because of Billy and Patsy’s generosity, this quilt lives with me.

Mendota Cemetery Quilt 2013


Quilt I 11


Quilt I 12


Quilt I 13

More…very spring like in this area.

Quilt I 14


Quilt I 15


Quilt I 16


Quilt I 17

More…this looked simpler than some of the others.  I wonder if I could make it?   Are you kidding me?

Quilt I 18

More…this snowball design was one of my favorites.  So colorful.

Quilt I 19


Quilt I20

Whew! Aren’t they beautiful? I saw one name over and over again. “Mary Hogston.” If you know Mary, please tell her she has made some beautiful quilts.

Mary HOgston


The Sacred Mailbox

If you have been reading RiverCliff Cottage for a while, you have read about Mendota’s Barnrock Road project.   As the new road has evolved,  an old house has been torn down, driveways changed, a barn was torn down, valuable crop land was used, and so forth.

However, there is one apparently sacred thing that the road crew will not tamper with…Helene Holbrook’s mailbox.


We are all wondering how she has garnered this special treatment? Maybe she is serving the road crew happy brownies? (She did move here from California.) Maybe there’s romance involved with one of the heavy equipment operators?   Maybe she’s prettier than Steve McCroskey who lost some cropland?

We may never know the answer to these questions.  Our only certainty lies in the fact that Helene’s mail may be safely delivered to her mailbox which remains tall and strong in a road of uncertainty.

mailbox 2





Mendota’s Spring Babies

I rolled down the window as we came home from church today to take this picture. I was oohing and aahing over the Bradford Pears which look like popcorn trees. A deep breath of spring air and I suddenly remembered! Phew! These trees stink. Dead fish.  Even with the stink, however, I think “I’m the luckiest person in the world.”  I never forget how fortunate I am to live here on the river.

Swinging Bridge

I appreciate the lovely home my husband provided for me (even though we have to work ourselves silly keeping it looking good). I just wish it were clean right now.

RiverCliff Cottage

Just a short trip down the road, I run into Mrs. Mooster who is also enjoying spring. Here she is:

Black Cow Mama

She loves the spring, but she was actually working when I took this picture. She is the receptionst and greeter to a very important place…

Miss Mooster

No one gets to enter unless they have a yellow badge in their ear. Security.   And look at all the black dots here and there in the pasture…there are dozens of calves.  I did a “quick count” following taking this picture and there were at least 24.

Nursery View

Mendota’s own baby nursery?



Spring in Mendota, Virginia April 3 2014


Spring 2014 is especially welcome.  You know why…we are all sick of winter.    Bring on the color!   After daffodils,  forsythia brings most of the early color to our valley

firsynthia bush

They look so pretty in the house. I usually cut some fresh branches and bring them in– but in this picture, well, you know...they are fake!


Yesterday it was 70 degrees.  We went to town and visited My True Love’s garden center. I bought some snapdragons even though it’s too early, because….because I wanted them! I will cover them when the inevitable cold snap occurs.

Snap Dragons

We also bought three blueberries bushes and installed them in the new raised beds. My former blueberry patch was doing terrible.  The soil was not amended properly and they were smothering in clay and just existing.   Mike and I moved the three best from that blueberry patch to the raised beds for a total of six.  With blueberries,  the first year they sleep–the second year they creep–and the third year they leap. I was at Year Five, and all I could hear was snoring. Hopefully, the loose soil amended with peat moss in the raised beds will change that for me.  Hopefully!  I do love blueberries!


I put this purple wave petunia in between the blueberries.  It will be so pretty when it spreads around.  Yes…I know it is early, but I’ll be careful!

Wave Petunia

Mike picked up three trailer loads of compost from the City of Bristol. Hey Bristol! Your garbage! My garden! They told him to get there early on Tuesday or Wednesday because they suspected they’d be running out. He got there very early and we got our compost. He and Neth worked all day putting compost around my plants.

Spring Work

They also pulled a few shrubs. Neth thought he could do this by hand, but the John Deere did a much faster job of it. I wrote about those funny looking shrubs here.

Green Shaggy plant

It’s a pretty place here at RiverCliff Cottage,  but we work hard to keep it that way.   For this year, we’re just getting started!


Dale Jett & Hello Stranger – Progress!

So excited.  Our Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit just went on the Crooked Road’s website.  Our little benefit takes a lot of volunteers and support; however, in the early weeks leading up to the April 25 date, it’s primarily Oscar Harris and me.   We contact newspapers, on-line bulletin boards, television stations, and tell everyone we see about our special night.  Earlier this week I showed Oscar the proposed publicity poster for this year’s event.

Here it is.   Do you like it?  The letter spacing appears incorrect in this image.  They are corrected on the copy that’s being printed.   I was a little worried because Teresa and Oscar are blurry (on purpose),  and Dale’s all crisp and clear.   He’ll get the big head for sure.



If you know of a good place for this poster to be displayed in the weeks leading up to the event, message me and I’ll get you one.  They are currently being printed.    We deliver them wherever there is an interest.    In the past two years, we’ve had that magic time when the artists and the audience connect.  They will open with “Hello Stranger” but we aren’t strangers to these musicians.  We know  and love them.   You can almost see that connecting thread when the song “Farmer’s Prayer” is played.

Many thanks to Jeff Chamberlin and our pals at Domtar Paper who support this event.   We could not do this without them.

If you’ve got loved ones or friends buried in Mendota or Mt. Vernon Cemeteries, I ask that you help me share this information.   Our donations are drastically down–we could not maintain these beautiful, restful places without fundraising.

Mendota Cemetery 4

Mt. Vernon and Mendota Cemeteries follow a time-honored, southern tradition of being there when a family is in need and not charging for the gravesite.     This event–with the accompanying Cemetery Quilt Raffle– is what allows us to continue that tradition.

Mt. Vernon Church Sign


Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.



The Economics of Trails

Hi there!  It’s a sunny Tuesday morning, and I have more to do than a one-armed paper hanger.  First, I’ve got to do a little work on a proposed 5K Run we’re trying to have in Mendota.    (Pastor Wayne Hays probably thinks this is all done.  I am going to disappoint him!)  Then, it’s off to work on the 40th JSB Class Reunion with Doris Clendenen  Shuman, come home and do a little housework followed by tonight’s meeting with Garrett Jackson on the Economic Benefits of Trails.  Tomorrow, I have a bunch of About Face things to do.  I love my job at About Face, as I love the products and working with my girlfriend.   I totally believe that eating organic is better, but I totally believe that Botox on those frown lines makes the world go better!!  Call me at 423.989.3223 if you every want to talk the Botox talk.  It’s top secret and I’ll hook you up!    But now…back to trails.

I’m wondering…if we just approached the landowners with property adjoining the trail and asked them to consider how a trail could benefit them personally as well as discuss how we could mitigate (NOT litigate) the inconvenience where they’ve built very close or actually on the trail, if they’d consider the benefits???   If the trail was close to my house, I’d be selling lemonade and cookies, cause those bikers are hungry!!

While I realize not everyone is like me, it’s fun–and very wise–to learn about the potential:

Economic Benefit of Trails SmallHope to see you there!


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